MILPA announced at a press conference Thursday that one of its members has been placed on leave.
A spokesperson for the nonprofit said it has always been transparent about the fact that the organization works with people who have a history of gang involvement, and there are risks associated with that.
Last week, a video from the Monterey County Jail surfaced showing MILPA leader Israel Villa flashing what appears to be a gang sign used by the Salinas East Marqueta in a group chat with inmates.
Organizations such as the California Endowment and the Action Council of Monterey County have shown support for the nonprofit since the video was released, pointing out what MILPA has done in the Salinas Valley community.
The video prompted criticism from others. The Salinas Police Officers Association demanded that the city take action and cut ties with MILPA, which is a member of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace.
In Thursday’s press conference, MILPA also acknowledged allegations from media outlets about gang activity within the nonprofit, saying, “The allegations that MILPA has been taken over by any organization are unsubstantiated and untrue; as executive director I would never allow that to happen, ever.”
MILPA’s executive director also said that if a staff member is an active member of a gang, they cannot be employed by MILPA.